The Petit Palais and the Grand Palais

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The Grand Palais and the Petit Palais were both built for the 1900 World Fair. The city held a competition and at the end, 4 could not be divided (Henri Deglane, Albert Louvet, Albert-Félix-Théophile Thomas and Charles Girault) and were therefore asked to pool their work. Their assignment was to replace the existing Palais de l’Industrie with two palaces facing each other and resulted in two very different monumental buildings, used for different purposes, which complete each other perfectly.

The Petit Palais, designed by Charles Girault, blends classic elegance with Art Nouveau via the large trapeze-shaped galleries joined by a charming interior garden. The palace became the Paris Fine Arts Museum in 1902 and boasts a permanent collection covering Antique times to the 20th century, as well as exhibitions on tour. The palace stands out notably due to the majestic porch and 32 ft tall gate designed by Charles Girault and is considered the most beautiful example of Art Deco in the world. The gateway is surrounded by 3 sculptures made by Jean-Antoine Injalbert, Maurice Ferrary and Louis Convers in tribute to Art and the city of Paris. The project involved various technical feats and innovations, such as the large number of windows to light the exhibitions within, which was totally revolutionary at the time.

The Grand Palais just opposite is even more majestic, topped with a 147 ft high glass dome. The  combination of steel, glass and stone materials were chosen by the architects to produce a very modern result. The building was initially designed to host large exhibitions and shows. In the end, the 230,000 sq ft were divided into three different sections: the 44,300 sq ft nave which accommodated the building’s initial function, the National galleries (turned into a museum to show major exhibitions on tour on André Malraux’s request) and the Palais de la Découverte devoted to science. Retrospectives on Joan Miro, Irving Penn and Gauguin were just some of the big names on show in 2018.
The nave also hosts several annual prestigious events such as show jumping (Saut Hermes), the Paris Motor Show, the FIAC (international modern Art fair) and designer fashion shows, starting with Chanel. Karl Lagerfield adores setting up gigantic decors here for his shows, such as a 40 ft tall golden lion surrounded by models, a green forest, an ice field, a sandy beach with waves, the Titanic, a magic roundabout, a plane, the Eiffel Tower, an autumn forest and even rue Cambon itself, or an identical copy in tribute to the famous street where the very first Chanel fashion shows took place.